by Gill Games
Chair of the Playwork Trailblazer Apprenticeship Group
Over three years ago now, a group of playwork employers began the journey to build a new Trailblazer Apprenticeship for Playworkers. Probably if those involved had realised the size of the mountain (actually that should be mountains) in front of them, this journey might never have started, as it has been a whole series of challenges.
Our first challenge was the discovery that the Institute of Apprenticeships questioned that Playwork was actually an occupation. There followed several frustrating months where we were pushed towards Early Years to be a module on their apprenticeship and then over to Youth Work and then back again. After much production of evidence and many meetings, employers working on those two Apprenticeships stated clearly that Playwork was a different discipline; and finally Playwork was recognised as having occupational status in its own right.
Another important moment followed very quickly when it was realised that the Apprenticeship was required to train Playworkers from every aspect of the Playwork Industry. The scope of the Apprenticeship was clear; a Playworker who trained while working as a Park Ranger must be able to move to employment in a closed access after school club without any further training. The steering group finally involved employers from every aspect of Playwork creating lengthy but enlightening discussions all helping to create an exciting and broad Apprenticeship relevant for everyone.
Many challenges followed from the changing of the forms to be used; to the terminology; to gaining understanding of what was expected at each stage. Lots of frustrations, lots of laughing and lots of building of new relationships and often a wider understanding of the amazing industry we all work in.
Information and overview of the Apprenticeship in Playwork
- The Standard for the Apprenticeship has been designed by employers of playworkers. It gives a clear description of the occupation describing the responsibilities and tasks involved and the skills, knowledge and behaviours that will need to be attained to show competence. It is totally based on the duties a Level 2 Playworker is required to undertake.
- It is approved by the Institute of Apprenticeships
- The Employer is required to release the Apprentice for 20% of their employed time for off-the-job training
- The Government pay for a substantial amount of the cost of training, up to 95%, but this varies from employer to employer
- An Apprenticeship in Playwork will take 18 months to complete due to the system of hours worked by an Apprentices
- A Certificate is issued by the Institute of Apprenticeships after successful completion noting either a Pass or a Distinction
- A playwork training provider (who must be on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers) delivers the training
- The course – entitled Level 2 Playwork Practitioner – attached to the apprenticeship is bespoke to Playwork and to the skills and knowledge the Apprentice will need to attain in the Standard
- A learner’s handbook has also been designed to support the delivered training. It has been created specifically for Playworkers and is easily accessible to all learners.
Assessment is at the end of the Apprenticeship – known as the End Point Assessment.
The End Point Assessment has three assessment methods
- A multiple-choice questionnaire
- A Professional Discussion based on a portfolio compiled by the apprentice – many of the formatted items for inclusion in this Portfolio will be contained with the Learner’s Handbook for the apprentice to complete
- An Observation of playwork practice with questions afterwards.
The Apprenticeship is overseen by the Institute and part of the responsibilities of the steering group is to give clear instructions as to the background, qualifications and experience in Playwork that a Trainer and Independent Assessor should have in order to play their part in the Apprenticeship. We have made it clear in all the documentation that only suitably qualified, experienced and occupationally competent Playworkers will be undertaking these roles.
The End Point Assessment is required to be undertaken by an appointed independent organisation employing occupationally competent playwork assessors who must be independent from the Apprentice, Employer and Training Provider.
We are almost at the end of our journey now. Things have been delayed due to the Covid19 pandemic as in all other areas of our lives, but the Standard is now working its way through the various stages of approval at the Institute and if all goes to plan the Apprenticeship should be ready to go during the early part of next year. We look forward to seeing it roll out and supporting our sector to grow.
Chair, Playwork Trailblazer Apprenticeship Group